Museo Piana delle Orme

Piana delle Orme, located near Borgo Faiti some 90 kilometers to the South of Rome, is a historical park where visitors can find a heterogeneous and interesting collection that includes aircraft, tanks, locomotives, carts, models, weapons, radios. The museum’s exhibits focuses on the 20th Century. Its 14 pavilions are organized into two sections: the Agricultural Section and the War Section. The Agricultural section includes the following pavilions: Old-times Toys and Modelling (1 pavilion), Reclamation of Pontine Marshes (2 pavilions), Olden- times Farming Machines (1 pavilion), Life in the Country (2 pavilions). The War Section contains the following pavilions: Olden-times military vehicles (1 pavilion), From El Alamein to Messina and Salerno (2 pavilions), The Landing of Anzio (1 pavilion), Battle of Cassino (1 pavilion), Civilian Use of War Surplus (1 pavilion). A complete visit would take some 4 hours as each pavilion has textual boards and audio guides (available in English and German too). Interestingly both an F-104S/ASA-M (believed to be the MM6722 as the serial is missing) “9-35” formerly belonging to the 9° Stormo at Grazzanise, and an EC-119G, visible from the car park are displayed in the area between the two rows of pavilions. The EC-119G is the example MM53-8146 “46-35” an aircraft manufactured in 1953, employed by the Indian Air Force, then by the United Nations in Congo and later by the 46^ Aerobrigata of the Aeronautica Militare at Pisa. For this reason the aircraft still wears the 46^ AB markings. In 1975, the aircraft was modified and then taken on charge by the 71° Gruppo at Pratica di Mare, and used with radio callsign “Perseo 35” as an Electronic Warfare asset. The aircraft made its last flight on Oct. 31, 1979 and it was the last Fairchild “Flying Boxcar” operating in Europe. It was initially destined to the Museo Storico Aeronautica Militare (ItAF Museum) at Vigna di Valle, but after resting many years at Pratica di Mare, it was acquired by the Piana delle Orme Museum in 1998. As picture I took in August 2009 show, the aircraft is in almost perfect conditions; furthermore, an hydraulic system allows the rotation of the propellers by inserting a 2 Euro coin in a sort of parking meter. The “Sbarco di Anzio” pavilion (for the story of the famous Anzio Beachhead click here) contains the remain of a Curtiss P-40L “Warhawk”. The aircraft sank in the sea in front of Latina on Jan. 31, 1944, after a successful ditching performed by Lt. Michael Mauritz. He was flying the Curtiss P40L dubbed “Skipper” in a reconnaissance mission on Anzio when he was forced to land on sea following serious overheating problems at the engine. Althought he was able to escape the sinking aircraft and reach the beach on a lifeboat, he was taken by the Germans. Helped by partisans, he was able to escape from the prison camp of Laterina (Arezzo) and after a long and difficult escape across Italy he was able to rejoin with his unit: the 79th Fighter Group. In September 1998 Michael Mauritz was invited to Piana delle Orme for the presentation of his aircraft that was recovered from the sea-bed where it laid at a depth of 10 meters at short distance from the beach, on Jan. 11, 1998.

For those interested in a visit, I suggest having a look at the Museum’s website whose contents are available in Italian, English and German language.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.